Key messages

  • Catchment-based intake services are the entry point for new clients to the Victorian alcohol and other drug treatment system, and they help existing clients to move through the system.
  • People entering the treatment system are triaged and assessed using clinical judgment, supported by standardised tools endorsed by the Department of Health & Human Services.
  • The intake tool supports intake providers to identify a person's level of risk and need to determine appropriate treatment pathways.
  • The comprehensive assessment tool supports treatment providers to determine the level and type of treatment and support required by a presenting client.
  • Practitioners providing comprehensive assessment develop an initial treatment plan with the client that forms part of a package of referral information provided to services engaged in the client's treatment pathway.

Catchment-based intake and comprehensive assessment process

Catchment-based intake services are the primary entry point for new clients to the Victorian alcohol and other drug treatment system, and they help existing clients to move through the system.

People entering the treatment system are triaged by intake services and comprehensively assessed by their treatment provider. Through this process, practitioners:

  • identify the severity of a person's alcohol and other drug use and broader life issues
  • identify high-risk people for whom an immediate response is necessary
  • identify people who require further treatment
  • obtain a baseline measure against which outcomes may be mapped over time.

Tools and guidelines are available to support clinical judgement and a high-quality, joined-up service response.

Prioritisation

Intake providers offer services to people aged 16 years and older, with no upper age limit in place. Intake and treatment providers also support families and significant others of people with alcohol and other drug issues.

Through the intake and assessment process, prioritisation and referrals are made according to clients' needs and service availability.

Intake providers determine who is prioritised for treatment based on clinical judgement and the best management of client flow through different treatment streams.

Need is determined based on the severity of substance dependency and complexity, including frequency and amount of use and other life complexity factors such as being at risk of experiencing family violence, homelessness, or being required to attend treatment as a part of a court order.

Where there are similar levels of clinical need, priority is given to those people who:

  • have dependent children who are reliant on them for their safety and wellbeing
  • are in contact with the justice system, particularly those referred to treatment by courts, corrections, police or parole boards
  • have a history of long-term homelessness
  • identify as Aboriginal
  • have a co-existing intellectual disability or acquired brain injury
  • have a mental illness
  • are subject to or have been discharged from compulsory treatment under the Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act 2010
  • have identified issues relating to family violence
  • have child protection involvement
  • require treatment as a part of a court order to achieve reconciliation with their children.

Only where there is more than one eligible person with a similar level of severity and need should priority of access be determined on the basis of length of time that someone has waited for treatment services.

Treatment pathways

There may be cases where a client requires (or prefers) ongoing treatment to be delivered by a provider who is not their assessment provider. In order to refer a client appropriately, assessment providers should work with the client and catchment-based intake services to understand the range of treatment options available to meet the client's needs.

Clients seeking additional treatment beyond a current course of treatment are not required to return to the catchment-based intake service. In most cases, the existing treatment provider can facilitate access to further treatment, update the treatment plan and inform the catchment-based intake service of the client's allocation to a new course of treatment or episode of care.

Clients may be referred for re-assessment if a significant change in need or life complexity suggests that this is warranted.

Intake tool

The intake tool supports intake providers to identify a person's level of risk and need and to determine appropriate treatment pathways.

Using the tool, practitioners are supported to engage the client and determine whether comprehensive assessment and additional treatment and support is necessary and/or if bridging support or brief intervention would be helpful in the interim.

The intake tool has been designed to be appropriate for engaging clients in a range of delivery settings including over the phone.

Comprehensive assessment tool

The comprehensive assessment tool supports treatment providers to determine the level and type of treatment and support required by a presenting client.

At the beginning of assessment, baseline data including substance use, health and wellbeing is collected through a self-completion form. The comprehensive assessment tool is designed for use in conjunction with the self-completion form, and from information collected at intake, to ensure that a client's comprehensive treatment needs are adequately understood.

Optional assessment modules elicit a detailed understanding of particular strengths, issues or experiences that may have been flagged at intake or assessment, or that may require further consideration.

Optional module 12 (forensic) is required for all ‘diversion’ clients referred from courts or court support programs such as the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP). Further information about this module can be found on the ACSO website.

This work should occur with the support of clinical supervision.

Initial treatment planning

Practitioners who provide the comprehensive assessment develop an initial treatment plan with the client using the provider's preferred planning tool.

Information collected at intake, the comprehensive assessment, the identified treatment needs and the client's own preferences inform the development of the treatment plan.

The completed tools and treatment plan form part of a package of referral information provided to services engaged in the client's treatment pathway.

Clinician Guide to the Victorian AOD Intake and Assessment Tools

The Clinician Guide is available as a guide to using the AOD intake and assessment tools. A copy of the Clinician Guide can be found below.

Online Learning Program for the revised AOD Intake and Assessment Tools 

The Department of Health and Human Services provided funding to Turning Point to develop an online learning program for AOD clinicians on the use of the revised AOD Intake and Assessment tools. 

The core content areas of the online orientation include:

  • An introduction to intake and assessment;
  • The AOD intake tool;
  • The comprehensive AOD assessment and self-completion form;
  • Optional modules;
  • A review; and
  • Summary.

By completing the online training program, participants will develop a better understanding of the purpose of the intake and assessment tools, how to complete the tools and how the tools can support clinical decision making about treatment options. 

The online learning program can be located at the Turning Point website.